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Red Meat To Ravenous Dogs
The US Senate just ensured Ukraine, and the American taxpayer, share the same fate as Afghanistan and Iraq
Wednesday evening, the US Senate voted down Senator Rand Paul’s amendment to provide oversight for the $100+ billion in money and weapons appropriated already to Ukraine. The vote wasn’t even close. Senator Paul’s amendment garnered a mere fifth of the votes in the Senate, far short of the 60 needed to pass.
I don’t usually share the statements I put out weekly via my organization, but I want to share this one. This congressional willingness to reject such an obvious requirement for a special inspector general, based upon what we saw occur in Afghanistan and Iraq, the corrupt nature of the Ukrainian government, and just the reality of flooding any country, let alone one in war, with such a stupendous amount of money and material, is infuriating. However, what should we expect if we understand, particularly through our own lived experiences, that war is a racket?
The US spent $146 billion in military and economic assistance to Afghanistan over 20 years, more than what the US spent on the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after WWII. The US Congress has appropriated $113 billion in less than 18 months in military and economic assistance to Ukraine, with most of that already spent. The Afghan War, and its sister war in Iraq, were glaring cesspools of corruption, fraud and waste that succeeded only in enriching corrupt officials, empowering warlords and profiting arms and development companies while building governments and armies that were nothing more than houses of cards. With Ukrainian aid, there has already been a $6 billion "accounting error”, unsurprisingly to the Department of Defense's favor. Yet the US Senate overwhelmingly voted down an amendment to create oversight mechanisms for Ukrainian aid yesterday.
In my own experience, working on political and reconstruction efforts with the Department of Defense and State Department in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in Washington, DC, this firehose of money and material to a nation well recognized as consumed by corruption before Russia's invasion, and now ensnared in the friction and fracture of war, is like throwing red meat to ravenous dogs. Not only does the recent history of the Afghan and Iraq Wars dictate the necessity of oversight, but simple common sense and sound business practices do as well. It beggars the limits of credulity that the US Congress is so willing to fling away tens and tens of billions of dollars while abdicating their constitutional oversight responsibilities and obligations, knowing full well the crimes that will occur and the role corruption will have on the outcome of the war. From this, we can only further understand the dangers of the military-industrial complex that President Dwight Eisenhower warned us of more than 60 years ago.
Thank you for letting me vent.
Below are a couple of media hits from this week. The first is my interview with Ralph Nader regarding the Iraq War in the Capitol Hill Citizen. The Capitol Hill Citizen is print-only, but you can order a copy from their website. It’s an excellent 40-page paper full of original articles. Since it’s not online, you’ll have to make do with this photo if you don’t order a copy. ;)
Also, an appearance from this week with Judge Napolitano:
We’re still trying to crack back into the mainstream media to get people to hear views they won’t hear otherwise (until 2014, I was a regular contributor on Fox, MSNBC and CNN, but as the media has changed, if you don’t have a Team Blue or Team Red perspective, you are not very useful to their ratings).
Finally, and thank you for reading this far, an excellent webinar today from the Quincy Institute on oversight of the Afghan and Ukraine Wars. It was a terrific panel of John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, Danielle Brian, president of Project on Government Oversight, and Quincy’s chair, Andrew Bacevich. It was moderated by the fantastic journalist Kelley Vlahos. All of them are people I look up to and admire.